Author Archives: Lascap

Why I am not continuing this online argument

I started our exchange in a spirit of friendship and respectful exploration. I hoped that we could maybe learn something. The reason I’m now discontinuing it is that I realize that this specific communication can no longer be meaningfully characterized … Continue reading

Posted in In eigener Sache | Leave a comment

Shadowy but present danger: A primer on psychopathy

In the age of social media, it is hard to avoid exposure to popular culture. This is a problem because most of the bugbears that are popular in this culture – like zombies or vampires – do not actually exist. … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Science | 15 Comments

Positive thinking about positive thinking might just be wishful thinking

Bringing about positive changes in your life is hard. Everyone knows this. But everyone also desires them. So it is seductive to believe – particularly if you have no credible way to actually bring them about – that merely wishing … Continue reading

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On the insinuation of bad intentions

Intentions matter. When assessing the merit or moral value of an action, we do not do so solely based on their outcomes, but take intentions into account. For instance, we consider it worse if someone breaks one cup in an attempt to … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Psychology, Social commentary, Technology | 1 Comment

On “Kardashians” in science and the general relationship between achievement and fame

I am not in the habit of commenting on ephemeral events, but this was brought to my attention by interested parties in a decidedly snarky fashion which obliges me to respond. Briefly, Neil Hall introduced the “Kardashian index” to quantify the … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments

Ideological opportunity cost (IOC)

Ideology interferes with an unbiased appraisal of reality. This – in itself – would be detrimental enough, but ideology is far more insidious than that. By nature, ideology is designed to be extremely self-serving and inherently creating in- and an out-groups. … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Philosophy, Social commentary | 3 Comments

What should we call simulated data?

Data is not made. Data is born as a result of a measurement process. Taking measurements (in conjunction with a measurement theory) creates data. But then, what should we call – in contrast – the results of simulations, the output of … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Philosophy, Science | 1 Comment

A tale of two wars

We are upon the 100 year anniversary of the start of the 1st world war. Most people alive today don’t fully appreciate the cataclysmic forces that were unleashed in this conflict, several of which still shape world events today. Of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Strategy | 1 Comment

The relative scale of early visual areas

The visual system of primates comprises a large number of distinct cortical areas containing neurons that modulate their activity in response to a visual stimulus and are believed to represent different aspects of the visual scene. It has been recognized … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | Leave a comment

Ideology poisons everything, as it rotates perceptions of reality

It is obvious where ideology comes from. It solves a lot of problems. A small tribe needs to agree on a distinct course of coherent action. Otherwise, its strength is frittered away, defeating the very point of finding strength in … Continue reading

Posted in Social commentary | 1 Comment

The social mission of perceptual research

Our perception corresponds to an idiosyncratic model of reality, not reality itself. This is easy to forget, as we all share a common outside environment in the form of external reality and process it with a cognitive apparatus that has … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social commentary | 3 Comments

A primer on the neuroscience of happiness

The age old question of what makes for a happy life is of great interest to almost anyone who is in fact alive. A classic answer, building on Aristotelian notions of happiness, is provided by Charles Murray who points out … Continue reading

Posted in In eigener Sache, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Social commentary, Technology | 1 Comment

The consolation of temporal perspective

Few things are more discouraging and galling to the righteous than the raging success of the obviously undeserving and unworthy. This can be particularly dispiriting early in life. The wise will recognize that virtue and non-virtue have fundamentally different time … Continue reading

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SfN 2013 in San Diego

This post will document my annual pilgrimage to SfN. This year (as in 2004, 2007 and 2010), it will take place in San Diego. See here how I prepare for the event and what I recommend how to go about … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | Leave a comment

You really do need to sleep right

Two years ago, I wrote extensively why getting sufficient sleep is crucial to a good life and how to go about getting establishing sufficient levels of quality and quantity. Since then,  the situation has – if anything – gotten even … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Optimization, Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments

The paradox of progress

I often wonder how people managed to get by a thousand years ago, without effective anesthetics or antibiotics or even a fundamental understanding of the underlying causes of illness and disease. However, I realize that people a thousand years from … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Social commentary, Strategy | 1 Comment

On the importance of consistent mapping

The problem I’m about to write about has been persisting for quite a while and I thought Google would have fixed it by now. Alas, no such luck, thus far. In a nutshell, we have been aware of the extreme … Continue reading

Posted in Misc, Optimization, Pet peeve | Leave a comment

Data were analyzed using Matlab…

It is important to use the right tools for a given job. Science is no exception. In particular, given the vast amounts of data that are now routinely encountered in the field, one will want to use the best available … Continue reading

Posted in Matlab, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 8 Comments

A more general relationship between relevance and rigor

Recently, SMBC (one of the few webcomics still worth reading, as he somehow manages to be uncorrupted by his own success) posted another inimitable offering. Except that in this case, it is actually perfectly imitable. This kind of thing can … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | Leave a comment

Superior motion perception in individuals with autism?

The empirical evidence seems to contradict Betteridge’s law. For the past 10 years, research on the “spatial suppression effect” showed that large moving stimuli are more readily perceived than smaller ones. However, this relationship doesn’t seem to hold in certain … Continue reading

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